There are times in our lives in which we find ourselves in a lonely and difficult place. Everywhere you turn there are troubles and darkness. In that place, it seems like you are alone and there is no aid to be found. But it is in these dark and difficult places that we find buried treasures of immeasurable wealth. It is here, we can find life overflowing, if we will only listen to the voice of God.
My wife and children almost died in an automobile accident. It was a very foggy morning and they did not see the stop sign until it was too late. Janet had a list of injuries that filled a page in her hospital chart, including a traumatic brain injury. They removed part of her skull to allow room for her brain to swell without killing her. Part of her brain was injured and bleeding, leaving her fighting for her life. She was in shock/trauma ICU for over 30 days.
My children were also injured and had to live with my parents while Janet was in the hospital. She did not come home for five months. When she did, she could not eat, or sit up. She could not walk or talk. She could not move her left arm or wiggle the fingers on her left hand for another 75 days. It was over 10 months before she could talk a little and two and a half years before she could walk. This was our wilderness.
These are the lessons I learned in that wilderness:
- PRESS IN: Let your urgency drive you to God. I am not perfect and have many faults, but I learned very quickly that I could only survive if I sought God with all my heart, mind, and strength. You must find in Him all your wisdom, all your hope, all your strength and all your deliverance. The Bible says that “deliverance by man is vain, but through God, we will do valiantly.” Ps. 60:10b-11a
- FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE, NOT WHAT YOU DON’T: Even though she was injured, she was still with me. Her faith and strength were still alive and powerful. I remember one day when she was just beginning to talk in short, raspy fragments. She was in her wheelchair and she was all hunched over reading her bible. She looked at me and said “Jesus … said … all authority … has been given to me . . . . ALL MEANS ALL!!” It was as if the light of a thousand suns burst through the clouds and lifted my spirits to the heavenlies. Don’t focus on what you’ve lost. Don’t focus on your problems. Focus on what you have. Learn to see that you have more than enough. Find all of God’s provision in what you have. It might not seem like much, but it is a treasure beyond your wildest imagination. Let God be God in what you have. Give Him praise and pray that you will fully appreciate the treasure He has given you. This is the scripture God gave me for Janet: “Guard through the Holy Spirit, the treasure that has been entrusted to you.” 2 Tim. 1:14. I had to understand that Janet was the treasure that God entrusted to me and I needed to guard this treasure by relying on the Holy Spirit, and on nothing else.
- LEARN TO LAUGH: While you have breath, there is hope. Part of focusing on what you have and appreciating it, is to learn to laugh in the midst of it all. If you are still alive, rejoice, love, and laugh together. Celebrate the miracle of life together and don’t take yourself too seriously.
- TRUST WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS OR LIMITS: You need to learn that our heavenly Father only gives good gifts and that he “Longs to be gracious to us.” He knows what we need. We often have our own plans and ideas about what we need. Lay them all on the altar and trust that God is giving you everything that you need to have a life full to overflowing. It may not seem like it at the time, but He will. When the Bible says that “God is able to make all things work together for our good,” He means it. We tend to see events as being bad or good. If we lose a hand in an accident, that is bad. If we win the lottery, that is good. This it totally wrong. Whether an event is good or bad depends solely on whether we give it to God and allow him to control it, WITHOUT ANY EXPECTATIONS OR LIMITS on what He will do. Then trust that He will cause those circumstances to bless you beyond your imagination. Paul put it this way: “17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18
- GOD HAS ALREADY WORKED MORE IN YOU THAN YOU KNOW: Many times, I thought that I reached the limits of my faith, that if I went one foot further, I would die. But later, I found that I was on the other side of the line and I did not die. After this happened again and again, I began to realize that God already worked depth and strength in me that I did not know was there. Paul, who went through much more than we ever could, said “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13 God knew that we had the faith to make it through, even if we did not have a clue. Trust Him.
- YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL: We need each other. I can’t tell you how many times we were strengthened and encouraged by the prayers and words of our fellow pilgrims. Ask for prayer. Accept help. Humble yourself and know that you need your brothers and sisters in Jesus.
I am not too sure how well we really learned these lessons. God it still working on us. But the ultimate lesson we learned was that God is good and that He is all that we really need. I was driving along one day when a catchy little song came on the radio: “Operator, information, give me Jesus on the line.” You’ve probably heard it. It is a light, happy song. I sang along. When I got to the words “just give me Jesus on the line,” all I heard was “JUST GIVE ME JESUS.” I broke down crying. Through my tears I pleaded “You can have everything else, just give me Jesus.” He is all you need. Seek Him with all your heart and cling to Him with all your strength. Find the whole universe in Him.
Date: Sept. 21, 2020, 2:46 a.m.